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Stunning Views Of Saturn’s Auroras – On Science

February 12, 2014

Boy, Saturn sure is putting on a show!

Where has the Loch Ness Monster gone?

What if NASA was your landlord?

And does your sense of smell make you eat more? Coming up today…On Science!

Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m Emerald Robinson.

Let’s kick off this episode of On Science with a show – a Saturnian show. NASA, using the Hubble Telescope and Cassini spacecraft, captured 360 degree views of Saturn’s northern lights. NASA joined up with international researchers to put together the footage of the lights to create the Saturnian show. Hubble provided an ultraviolet view of the auroras, while Cassini gave scientists the close-up views in infrared and visible-light to create the dance. NASA said, “The result is kind of step-by-step choreography detailing how the auroras move.” Solar flares result in auroras, causing collisions of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high latitude atmosphere. These charged particles enter the planet’s magnetic field and voila – dancing lights. Scientists say looking at this data will help them understand why the outer gas giants have higher heat than their distance from the sun should allow for. I love a good show.

Where has the Loch Ness Monster gone? USA Today reports that this last 18-month stretch without confirmed Loch Ness Monster sightings marks the longest since 1925. One man who keeps a record of the sightings says Nessie’s merely taking a break. There have been 1,036 total sightings dating back over 1,500 years, when the Irish Missionary, St. Columba is said to have encountered the monster. Real or not, both sides have their theories. But here’s a particularly interesting one. Britain’s “High Priest of White Witches” says Nessie is a ghost of a dinosaur.” Ok, well, I have really nothing to say about that.

So apparently NASA is going to be Google’s landlord? Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures LLC announced that it will be leasing NASA’s iconic Hangar One at Ames Research Center. Not only is the new tenant taking over daily costs, which will save tax payers some dough, but the company is expected to renovate the hangar and surrounding airfield. The company will mostly use it for executives’ private planes. Ah, the good life. Hangar One is an icon in the Silicon Valley dating back to the 30’s, but the discovery of toxic PCBs has kept it out of use since 1997. Interestingly, this announcement comes just two months after NASA’s inspector general raised questions about Google execs possibly taking advantage of the two companies’ budding relationship – flying personal jets and helicopters from the airfield. Hmm…

There’s a lot going on at NASA these days. The space agency is looking to assist in the development of next gen electric vehicle batteries. Batteries aren’t just essential to life on Earth but needed for space travel and exploration. So to make them better, NASA’s funding 22 projects in 15 states as part of the Robust Affordable Next Generation Energy, or RANGE, Storage Systems effort. The goal? To create inexpensive, low-carbon emission power sources for automobiles and other vehicles. They want to increase efficiency and allow for operation in the extreme heat, extreme cold, or in areas of high radiation.

A. Does hunger make your sense of smell stronger or B. Does your sense of smell make you eat more? It’s C. Both. Scientists from the University of Bordeaux say that the type 1 cannabinoid receptor in the olfactory bulb in the brain could cause you to eat more at the smell of food. They discovered what links hunger and increased smell perception the brain. They found that CB1 cannabinoid receptors control a circuit that connects the olfactory bulb to the cerebral cortex. When hunger is felt, it activates the olfactory circuit. They also found that in mice, the role of the CB1 receptor lead to increased food intake. Scientists hope that by better understanding this smell/food intake connection, they can develop treatments for obesity and eating disorders through the olfactory system.

And that’s what up On Science.



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